Strong decline in coal consumption in the EU.
After two years of recovery, global coal consumption declined again in 2019 (-2.6%). Public and private climate policies, combined with competition from cheaper gas-fired and renewable power generation have accelerated the closure of many coal-fired power plants and resulted in dramatic cuts in coal consumption in the EU (-18%, including significant drops in Germany, Poland and Spain) and in the USA (-12%, where nearly 14 GW of coal-fired power capacity was retired in 2019).
Coal consumption grew by 1% in China, which accounts for half of the global coal demand. The Chinese government aims at substituting coal use with gas and renewables but the coal-to-gas conversion policy relaxed in 2019.
In India, the second largest coal consumer worldwide, coal consumption declined by 3.4%, due to higher hydropower and renewable generation that cut coal needs in the power sector.
Coal consumption slowed down in Indonesia (+8.9%, i.e. half its 2018 growth), and decreased in South Korea and Japan, due to a lower demand from the power sector (reduced electricity consumption, nuclear competition, and air pollution constraints).
It also slowed down in large coal producing countries such as Russia (coal-to-gas switch in the power sector) and South Africa (reduced operations at coal-fired power plants due to technical issues) and even contracted in Australia and Turkey.
According to the French Syndicat des Energies Renouvelables (SER), France's total renewable energy capacity (wind, solar, hydropower, and bioenergy) has reached 55.3 GW in September 2020, with solar PV surpassing the 10 GW milestone. This means that solar PV capacity is halfway from reaching the Pluriannual Energy Programming's (PPE) target for 2023 of 20,100 MW. Wind capacity reached 17.2 GW, i.e. 71.5% of the 24,100 MW target foreseen for 2023 under the PPE. Furthermore, the hydropower capacity reached 25.7 GW (+170 MW over the same period of 2019), over 99% of the PPE's target, while bioenergy capacity reached 2.15 GW.
According to the European Union (EU) Agency for the Cooperation of Energy Regulators (ACER), the amount of cross-border capacity available for trade among Member States remains insufficient to meet the minimum EU target of 70% by 2020. Cross-zonal capacity increased by 3% in 2019 compared to 2018 due to border-specific improvements (Poland-Czech Republic/Germany/Slovakia, Austrian borders, Greece-Italy, Bulgaria-Romania and Germany-Denmark). Moderate decreases, compared to 2018, were observed at the Swiss and Norwegian borders (-6%) and at a smaller scale in Italy North and Nordic regions (-2%). In addition, several Member States continue to use national capacity mechanisms, even if they do not always face an adequacy problem.
According to the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre, global CO2 emissions from energy combustion increased by 0.9% to 38 GtCO2 in 2019, driven by China (+3.4%, accounting for 30% of global emissions) and India (+1.6%, 7% of global emissions). Meanwhile, Japan (3% of global emissions) reduced its energy-related CO2 emissions by 2.1%, the United States (13% of total emissions) by 2.6% and Russia (5% of total emissions) by 0.8%.
According to the European Commission, primary energy consumption declined by 0.7% in 2018 (-0.1% only for final energy consumption), which is insufficient to meet the 2020 targets. The highest annual reductions in primary energy consumption were posted in Belgium, Austria and Greece, whereas the largest increases were observed in Estonia, Latvia and Luxembourg. Between 2005 and 2018, primary energy consumption decreased in all Member States except Estonia, Cyprus, Latvia and Poland. Primary energy intensity fell in all Member States between 2005 and 2018; however, it grew in Denmark, Estonia and Luxemburg in recent years (between 2015 and 2018).